Fox captured on Capitol Hill after biting 9 people tests positive for rabies

The “aggressive” fox captured by Capitol Police Tuesday tested positive for rabies after biting at least nine people on Capitol Hill, according to officials with the District of Columbia Department of Health.

The female fox was “humanely euthanized” early Wednesday for a rabies test, DC Health said Wednesday night, noting that the agency is contacting “all human victims who were bitten by the fox.”

“The DC Public Health lab has confirmed that the fox that was captured yesterday tested positive for the rabies virus,” it said in a statement. “Animal control will post informational flyers on Capitol Hill informing about the fox’s rabies positive status and encouraging people who might have been exposed to call DC Health.”

DC Health said the captured fox was responsible for nine confirmed bites on Capitol Hill in a previous statement, adding that kits, or baby foxes, were also found in the area.

“The fox was an adult female and the pups were found and captured in the area the fox was from this morning. If this fox is determined to be the father of the pups, they will be sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center, from Otherwise, they will be relocated to the area where they were found,” the statement said.

Police had warned the public Tuesday afternoon not to approach any foxes reportedly causing alarm around the Capitol complex.

“We have received multiple reports of aggressive fox encounters on or near the grounds of the United States Capitol,” Capitol Police said. tweeted at 12:50 on Tuesday. “For your safety, please do not approach any foxes. Animal control officers are working to trap and relocate any foxes they find.”

A Capitol Police spokesman told ABC News at the time that a fox “bitten or nibbled” at least six people, including a lawmaker.

The House Sergeant-at-Arms office had also warned lawmakers in a memo about the fox biting people, saying, “There are possibly multiple fox dens on the Capitol Grounds.”

Representative Ami Bera, D-Calif., revealed on Twitter that he was the lawmaker who had been bitten.

In particular, foxes are susceptible to rabies and can transmit the disease to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a fact that Bera knows very well now.

The congressman’s office confirmed in a statement to ABC News that he was “bitten on the leg” and admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was shot multiple times.

Bera, who is a doctor, tweeted a light-hearted warning about its danger.

Images of the cute, but potentially dangerous, creature first surfaced on social media on Monday. A fox was seen scavenging nearby streets Tuesday afternoon, even though the area was bustling with tourists now that the Capitol complex reopened to the public last month after being closed for two years due to the pandemic.

After workers spent hours trying to find the animal in question, Capitol Police tweeted a photo at 3:36 p.m. Tuesday of the culprit in a cage with the line “Captured.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told reporters she had a close encounter with the fox Monday night, showing video she took of the animal, usually at night.

Some on the internet were quick to call for the fox, which was captured with the help of the Humane Rescue Alliance, to be released. A social network bill dressing up as the “Capitol Fox” also appeared on Twitter Tuesday, even issuing a statement about what the fox called his “illegal arrest.”

“Like a fox, I can’t speak. And too often, I have no one to speak for me. They make fun of me with songs, use me as clothes, and chase me like a criminal in my house. What for? I ask you ?” the statement said.

In particular, the only way to test for rabies in canines is to test their brains, which requires putting them down.

No other foxes were found on the Capitol Hill grounds, DC Health said Wednesday, but advised anyone who has had physical contact with a fox or its pups near Capitol Hill to contact the agency.

Justin Fishel, Sarah Shales and Trish Turner of ABC News contributed to this report.

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